Innovation and Design Thinking

In a rapidly changing world, the ability to collaborate across disciplines, embrace the ambiguity of unexpected challenges, and solve complex problems without clear solutions is currency.

The Certificate

young woman writes on a whiteboard covered in colored sticky notes

A UC student participates in a design thinking project. Photo/provided

The Transdisciplinary Innovation and Design Thinking Certificate gives undergraduate students a clear pathway to pursue innovation and design thinking in their University of Cincinnati education.

The certificate is open to any undergraduate student in any major who wants to learn and practice models and methods of innovative, creative problem-solving.

The certificate emphasizes transdisciplinary approaches to innovation as well as tools and mindsets that can be applied to almost any challenge. It defines innovation inclusively; it’s not restricted to the realms of business, engineering or design. Finally, the course content and learning outcomes have been informed by faculty experts within and outside UC along with input from industry professionals.

What You Will Gain

two young people speak in front of a wall full of colored sticky notes

Two UC students present their ideas after a brainstorming session at 2023 CREATE event at the 1819 Innovation Hub. Photo/provided

By completing the coursework and experiences to earn this certificate, you will:

  • Be exposed to various definitions of innovation, types of innovation, and their applications
  • Cultivate an adaptable, resilient mindset that enables creative problem-solving
  • Develop confidence in tackling complex challenges that have high ambiguity
  • Gain aptitude with an array of problem-solving frameworks and tools
  • Understand best practices for working in cross-disciplinary innovation environments and teams
  • Leverage non-linear and iterative approaches to problem-solving
  • Inspire others to pursue innovation through speculative designs, scenarios and approaches

How It Works

To earn the certificate, you’ll complete 13 credit hours of innovation coursework and three innovation experience credits. The options let you choose how to build your personal innovation toolkit. All courses and experiences are multi-disciplinary and emphasize industry-relevant innovation skills.

To earn the certificate, you’ll log 13 credit hours of courses that emphasize transdisciplinary innovation. You can take the courses in any order.

Innovation Foundations Courses (4-7 credit hours)

Choose 4 to 7 credit hours from the following foundational courses.

Innovation Foundations Courses
Course Number Course Title Credit Hours
INTR 1050 Innovation Models and Mindsets 1, required
ENED 1100 Foundations of Engineering Design Thinking 3
DAAP 2016 Design Thinking for Non-Designers 3
PD 2030 Inquiry to Innovation 3
ENTR 3001 Introduction to Innovation 3

Topical Innovation Courses (6-9 credit hours)

Choose 6 to 9 credit hours from the following topical courses.

Topical Innovation Courses
Course Number Course Title Credit Hours
BA 2014 Thinking Innovatively 3
PD 2030 Inquiry to Innovation 3, repeatable
BIOL 2030 Sensing in Animals and Robots 3
DAAP 3000 Applied Trend Research and Analysis 3
DAAP 3040/ENED 3040 Sticky Innovation 3
DAAP 3050/ENED 3050 BioDesign Challenge 3
INTR 3091 Intercultural Social Innovation 3
ARTE 3113/PHIL 3113 Strange Tools 3
ARTE 3041C/NS 3041C From Neurons to Picasso: How and Why the Brian Makes Art 3
MEDS 4030 Introduction to Medical Device Innovation 3
PD 5100 Corporate Challenge Collaborative 1-6
POL 5035 Cyberattack Red Team Collaborative Seminar 3

In addition to coursework, you’ll get practical experience in innovation and design thinking through things like design challenges, competitions, innovation sprints, and more.

As you document your experience, you’ll accumulate Innovation Experience Credits (IECs) toward your certificate.

The flexible nature of experience credits means you’re free to discover and do things within UC, outside the university, or in industry – even things we haven’t thought of yet – and get credit for them.

This table shows the relative weights of different experiences as examples. You’ll collect the equivalent of three experience credits to complete the certificate. You can complete them over four years or all at once.

SAMPLE Innovation Experience Credits (IECs)
IEC Value Examples of Approved IECs
.5 IEC

Participate in a one-week or half-day innovation sprint sponsored by a Cincinnati Innovation District company

Participate in UC Startup Weekend

Participate in Sustainable Invention Immersion Week


Participate in a multi-week Cincinnati Innovation District Innovation Challenge

Complete a multi-week Venture Lab training series or pre-accelerator program

2 IECs

Prepare for and compete in a team-based innovation competition external to UC, such as BioDesign Challenge, MIT Crowdsolve, etc.

Complete a semester-long research assistant experience in a multi-disciplinary lab, such as a Digital Futures lab

3 IECs

Complete an innovation-focused, pre-approved University Honors Program experience and all associated reflection requirements

Complete a project and all requirements for the Warren Bennis Leadership in Innovation designation

Next Steps

young man talking and holding up a sketch while a young woman beside him looks on

UC students share ideas during an innovation training in California. Photo/provided

If you are interested in innovation and design thinking and want to pursue this as part of your UC undergraduate education, consider any of these as next steps:

  • Take the one-credit-hour Innovation Models and Mindsets course (INTR 1050)
  • Try an innovation sprint or participate in UC Startup Weekend or Sustainable Invention Immersion Week. To hear about these and similar opportunities, follow 1819 on social media.
  • Talk to your academic advisor about adding this certificate to your degree audit
  • Contact program director Aaron Bradley


Headshot of Aaron Bradley

Aaron Bradley

Associate Professor; NEXT Innovation Scholars Director; Director of Innovation Ecosystem Advancement